Calls for Achuthanandan to quit over support for governor

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - Several posters asking Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to “resign and go” were found plastered across the state capital Thursday morning even as the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) refuted media reports of friction among its leaders over Achuthanandan defending the governor’s action against Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin scam.

Achuthanandan Wednesday said Governor R.S. Gavai’s nod to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute CPI-M state Secretary Vijayan in the Rs.300 crore (Rs.3 billion) corruption case was “not surprising”.

Just a day before, Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had criticised the governor’s decision, calling it a violation of the constitution and democratic rules.

However, when asked about his opinion, Achuthanandan contradicted Balakrishnan and said: “Don’t you know that there have been several instances in the past where governors have taken such a stand?”

Vijayan is accused of wrongly awarding a project for renovation of three hydel-power projects to the Canadian company SNC Lavalin when he was the state power minister in 1997.

Local media reports said six ministers who support Vijayan went to the tainted party leader’s house and expressed their desire to step down in protest against Achuthanandan’s comments Wednesday.

There were also reports that Finance Minister Thomas Isaac met CPI-M national general secretary Prakash Karat in New Delhi and conveyed discontentment among party cadres over the tussle between Achuthanandan and Vijayan.

Senior CPI-M leader M.M. Lawerence publicly expressed his displeasure with Achuthanandan.

“It appears that Achuthanandan is speaking in the same language as that of the opposition leaders on this issue. I am totally surprised in the manner in which he is behaving,” Lawrence said during a panel discussion on a Malayalam TV channel.

However, Balakrishnan issued a statement denying the media reports late Wednesday.

“These are all baseless stories. Our ministers have not told the state party leadership that they cannot continue in their posts. If there are issues we will settle it amongst ourselves,” said Balakrishnan.

But despite the denial by Balakrishnan, several posters asking Achuthanandan were found here as Thursday dawned.

Party sources said Karat will participate in the meeting of the 15-member state secretariat of the party, which is scheduled to be held at the end of this week and will address the fallout of the Lavalin controversy.


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